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We live in a country that is addicted to incarceration as a tool for social control. As it stands now justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate but in fact make people worse and have no evidence- based correlatives to reducing crime. Yet with that track record they continue to thrive, prosper and are seen as an appropriate response to children in trouble with the law. Only an addict would see that as an okay result. -- James Bell, USA.

Justice System or Punishment System?

Forgiveness, Justice and Terrorism

Dangerous to Tell the Truth

Understanding and Judging: Mutually Exclusive?

Quote from Maria Montessori

Essay by Julian Ninio

Religion and Justice

Assassination of Osama bin Laden

Justice in America- 3 Teens Accused of Murder are Finally Set Free

Justice System In America Is Not About Justice

Teaching and Using Empathy in the Justice System

Martin Luther King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Justice System or Punishment System?

A question worth asking when you hear the words "justice system" is are we really talking about justice or is it better to say the "punishment system"

And when you hear "Bringing someone to justice" doesn't it really mean punishing them?

Quote from Maria Montessori

The seven-to-twelve-year-old period, then, constitutes one of particular importance for moral education.

It is at this age also that the concept of justice is born, simultaneously with the understanding of the relationship between one's acts and the needs of others. The sense of justice, so often missing in man, is found in the development of the young child.

The justice usually found around the school and in the family could be called "distributive justice"--that is to say, equality for all, as much in the distribution of punishments as of rewards. Special treatment of one individual seems to constitute an injustice; this introduces the concept of legal right. There is here an affirmation of individuality in the sense of egoism and isolation. Such a concept does not encourage interior development. On the other hand, justice--although usually not considered in this light--is born specifically from interior education. The principle of distributive justice and individual right, purely external, destroys the inborn, natural sense of true justice.

From my notes on the work of Maria Montessori

Justified by God

Something interesting from the bible. Here is one bible verse:

Romans 4:5

However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

When searching "What does it mean to be 'justified by God'?" this was found:

What does it mean to be “Justified by God?”

Definition: Justification is a legal declaration, a public acknowledgement on the part of God, that the believer stands credited with Christ's righteousness. All our sins are forgiven, removed, gone! Christ bore them all.

Backup of source

Does this imply that to justify means to forgive? When people nowadays say "to bring someone to justice", it often means to punish them. So did God want us to punish people when they are still alive, or is it up to God to punish them after they are dead? Or did he want us to forgive people?

See the next section on forgiveness.


Here is one thing the bible says about forgiveness:


21 Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus said to him: I say not to you, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.

Religion and the Justice System in America

In the USA it is common for witnesses in a court case to be told to place their hand on a bible and answer this question:

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

Yet if someone were to say that "The Devil made me do it" or "I was told by God to do it", would this be a valid defense? It seems more likely that if someone insisted that the Devil or God made them do something, they would have a better chance of being found not guilty by way of insanity, rather than by faith.

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Justice System is Not About Justice

Quote from Chuck Frost

...the criminal justice system is not about guilt and innocence. Rather, it is about winning and losing. About how both sides care not a fig about what is fair, but, are focused on their record and how they will look as lawyers. After all, if you can get guilty people off, then you get a lot more people with money willing to pay you to help them get off. After all, if you as the prosecutor can win every case, even those where the person may not be guilty, then you look good and get promoted or are able to run for office or get a lucrative job in the private sector. In short, winning pays off for the lawyer and losing is just that and no more. So, for the average American, the court system is dangerous, no matter whether you are innocent or guilty. It needs a major overhauling if we are to make it a safe system for the innocent.



Teaching and Using Empathy in the Justice System

From Chuck Frost

One of the effective ways that we are able to treat those who lack empathy, for example child molesters, is to have them watch videotapes of victims tearfully telling what it was like to be molested and then having the offender write about their own offense from the victims point of view and reading this to the group.

Note - While we support this kind of work, we also suggest it could be equally or more helpful to have someone talk or write about their own feelings as a child or teen. We suspect all those arrested have been abused in some way so we suggest calling attention to this and their resulting unmet emotional needs.




Backup copy

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Sunday, June 19, 2009 Living Hope EFC Art Smith Rom.3:21-26: “How God gets man into heaven.” ILLUS: Dr. Barnhouse & a Lodge Member.

Early in his ministry, Dr. Barnhouse met a man who lived near the church where he preached. When he spoke to him about his salvation & heaven, the man patronizingly laughed him off & told him he didn't need church or anything like that. He was an active member of a lodge and if any man lived up to the high principles of that lodge he would be all right. He saw him from time to time and would ask him about his relationship with the Lord. His reply: “He was living up to his lodge obligations.” One day someone told Dr. B that the man was seriously ill & wasn?t expected to live out the day. He went to see him. His lodge buddy was sitting across the room from him on the deathwatch. “I knew the dying man’s case was desperate, and I decided that a desperate remedy was necessary. I sat down by his bedside and said to him, "You do not mind my staying a few minutes and watching you, do you? I have wondered what it would mean to die without Christ, and I have known you for several years now as a man who said he did not need Christ but that his lodge obligations were enough, and I would like to see a man come to the end that way, to see what it is like.”

I will never forget that which followed. He looked at me like a wounded animal and slowly said: "You wouldn’t mock a dying man, would you?” Then I asked him what answer he would give when God asked him what right he would have to enter the Lord?s holy heaven? Great tears ran down the man's pale face and he looked as me in agonizing silence. Quickly, I told him how he might approach God through the merits of Christ, and it was not long before he began to say that his mother had taught him these things as a child. He had abandoned them. But in those moments he came to God, accepted Christ as his Savior, and called his family in to share his testimony with them.

Dr. B told this story a few days later at his funeral. (Rom., Vol.1, 267) All of us face death one day, it may be sooner than we imagine. There are basically only two kinds of religions in the world:

1. Those who teach that man must earn heaven by his behavior. • Man helping God, to convince God he's worthy of paradise.

2. That which teaches man can do nothing to earn his way to heaven, but must rely completely upon God?s goodness, grace & “doing.” The first - comes in multiple forms:

2 • “Live by the golden rule & you?ll be OK.” “Do your best.” “I?m a member of a church.” “I?ve never done anything that was that bad.”

The second – Is man admitting he has nothing to offer for righteousness. The Bible clearly says – only one of these is correct, and it is the second.

In Rom.1:18-3:20 we have seen that man is absolutely incapable of entering heaven on the basis of achievements that he can offer to God, so God can say – “You are righteous, come in.” -3:19- 20

If we're thinking along with Paul we are asking: “Then what hope is there?” To which Paul answers: 3:21-26. “BUT NOW God…! Romans 3:21-26 contains the greatest of theological concepts and doctrines in God?s explanation of Salvation. • Apart from law. Righteousness. Justified. Redemption. Atonement. • Today we will look at: “Justification by faith, apart for the law.” OR “How God gets man into heaven!” 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

First: We need to understand the principle and function of Law. 1. The principle of Law is expressed for us in Gal.3:10. “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

Blessing is on the basis of merit; for both Jew & Gentile, Rom.2:14-15 • If one could keep the law of God, he would be righteous & sinless. • BUT no one can keep the law: Gal.3:11. (Anyone here??) 2. Paul has a lot to teach us about “law” in Romans. • He uses the word 75 times in Romans, next highest is Galatians – 32. • 3:19-20 – Before the law, every person is found guilty = none r?ous. • 3:21 – God provides a r?ness for man – apart from law. - There has to be another alternative. On the basis of works, law-keeping, man is bankrupt! It is righteousness that we need – we are guilty of sin. And it is righteousness that God provides! • 4:14 – Law is incongruous with “promise,” and “faith.” 4:4-5 • 4:15 – Law can only bring “wrath,” upon man. (Witness – Israel.) • 5:20 – Law actually pinpoints & multiplies our sins & unr?ness.

3 • 6:14 – Law produces slavery to sin- (“all are under sin”). • 7:5 – Law arouses our sinful passions, it does not impede them, v7,8. • 7:4 – Man must be freed from Law – to bear fruit for God. • 8:3 – Law is powerless to bring about r?ness because of our sin nature • 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for the believer! Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law, died – to satisfy the Law?s penalty upon the sinner, rose from the dead – alive from the Law?s jurisdiction. • Every demand of the Law upon the sinner – was satisfied in Christ, and the believer now is freed from, dead to - the Law?s jurisdiction. 3. So why was the Law given to Jews in the 1st place? Gal.3:21-22,24-25 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. • The law showed up our sin, and our need for a Savior. Rom.6:23. • No one can keep all the laws. Keeping some of them does not nullify those broken in the past. We cannot help but break the laws, future. POINT: If man is going to have righteousness that is acceptable before God, it has to come from some other Source. God alone has this R?ness. God gives each believer righteousness, freely, by faith-Rom.3:22-24 1. God?s method of making man righteous is witnessed to in the OT-v21 • This is not a strange idea to God?s previous revelation: • Gen.15:6; Hab.2:4; Psalm 32:1-5; 51:16-17; Is.53:10-11 2. It is given “by faith, freely” – as opposed to works, law, effort–v.22 • Faith is never counted as a “work” of man by God: 4:5. • “Freely:” V.24. As a GIFT! This is the ONLY alternative to “works.” • A gift without payment, not earned, without finding cause in us. • It is used 9 times in NT; Mt.10:8, 2 Cor.11:7; Rev.21:6; John 15:25 POINT: The cause for God giving us HIS R?ness (justifying us) is not in us! Not because of anything we do. And is not withheld because of sins. • The cause is in God?s grace – because of Christ?s payment for our sin. ILLUS: Missionary & Gift Pearl The story is told of a missionary who became a good friend of an Indian pearl diver. The two had spent many hours together discussing salvation, but the Indian could not understand anything so precious being “free.” Instead, in making preparation for the life to come, the diver was going to walk the 900 miles to Delhi on his knees. He thought this would buy entrance into heaven for him. The missionary struggled to communicate to his friend that it is impossible to buy entrance into heaven because the price would be too costly. Instead, he said, Jesus had died to buy it for us.

4 Before the man left for his pilgrimage, he gave the missionary the largest & most perfect pearl he had ever seen. The missionary offered to buy it, but the diver became upset and said that the pearl was beyond price, that his only son had lost his life in the attempt to get it. The pearl was worth the lifeblood of his son. Suddenly the diver understood that God was offering him salvation as a priceless gift. It is so precious that no man could buy it. It had cost the life of God?s Son. The veil lifted & he understood at last. –Green, 315 POINT: What God gives “freely” can be given to us as a gift, because the cost has already been paid by Christ’s death. • ON the Cross Jesus paid the penalty for our sins – at the hand?s of God?s justice. • Any futile attempt by us to pay God for our sins, by our “good works” is in fact an insult and detraction from the value of Christ?s death. • Instead of man being the achiever/ worker, it is God Who does the work for man. Christ?s works/ efforts are the basis of our benefit. 3. It is God Himself – Who justifies– gives us His righteousness. 1:16-17 • Justification is not the legalizing of a fiction, but the recognition of a fact, based upon God?s real gift or r?ness given to the believer. 4. Man?s greatest dilemma/need met by God Himself! 3:22,26,28,30.

What does it mean to be “Justified by God?” Definition: Justification is a legal declaration, a public acknowledgement on the part of God, that the believer stands credited with Christ?s righteousness. 1- All our sins are forgiven, removed, gone! Christ bore them all. Negatively, there is a subtraction. • It is more than a pardon. A pardon overrules guilt that really is there. • The believer's sins are gone! – Ps.103:10-12.; Acts 10:43 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. • Not partial, but full payment! Col.2:13, 3:1-4. • A pardon concerns only the past. Forgiveness deals with the future. • Divine forgiveness is never an act of leniency, but complete justice. 2- We are given right standing (declared righteous) by God, as a gift. Positive: There is an addition. – Rom.5:17 • It is not righteousness with roots in us, by our producing. 2 Cor.5:21

5 • It is an act once for all accomplished, not a process. Never changes. • There are no degrees of justification, each believer has same standing • It does not mean God makes us “righteous” in our condition, but He declares us righteous – as a legal matter. • God puts Christ?s r?ness on our record in the place of our sinfulness. 3- The Result: We have eternal life. Rom.6:23 • Since it is Christ?s r?ness that we are given, it is eternal in nature. • It is a gift – all of grace. No approximations. 100% guaranteed. Question: Upon what basis are you depending on getting into heaven? • Are you depending on your human effort, like the lodge member Dr. Barnhouse went to see? • Or have you placed your trust in what Jesus did for you on the Cross? • God recognizes only faith in His Son – as the condition for righteousness. Nothing else measures up./